USC Gamecocks Football

After critical misplay, Gamecock great owns up in Eagles’ season-ending playoff loss

Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (17) reacts after the New Orleans Saints intercepted a pass in the second half of an NFL divisional playoff football game in New Orleans, Sunday, Jan. 13, 2019. The Saints won 20-14 to advance to the NFC Championship.
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (17) reacts after the New Orleans Saints intercepted a pass in the second half of an NFL divisional playoff football game in New Orleans, Sunday, Jan. 13, 2019. The Saints won 20-14 to advance to the NFC Championship. AP

The Philadelphia Eagles chances of repeating as Super Bowl champions were dealt a devastating blow when a pass deflected off the hands of Alshon Jeffery and was intercepted late in the fourth quarter of an NFL playoff game Sunday.

Instead of driving for a game-winning touchdown, the Eagles lost to the New Orleans Saints, who advanced to the NFC Championship Game against the Los Angeles Rams.

After the game, the Gamecock great took the blame for the loss.

To the city of Philadelphia, that’s on me. I’ll take that,” Jeffery said in a postgame interview.

“I let my teammates down. I let the city of Philadelphia down. That’s on me. We’ll be back next year for sure,” Jeffery said in the locker room, NFL.com reported. “One play don’t define me. I mean, all of the greats, they have missed game-winning shots. ... So it happens. It’s part of football. I just hated the way it happened in the playoffs and it was the final moment.”

In spite of the misplay, the University of South Carolina alum was the Eagles’ leading receiver in the game, with five catches for 63 yards.

But with 1:52 to play, and the Eagles trailing by six points, quarterback Nick Foles targeted Jeffery, but the pass went through his hands and ricocheted to Marshon Lattimore, who recorded his second interception of the game.

When Jeffery went to the sideline after the turnover, he was quickly consoled by Foles.

The votes of confidence for Jeffery continued after the game. His coach was among Jeffery’s supporters.

“He’s made many, many big catches for us this season, and he will continue to do that,” Eagles coach Doug Pederson said, NFL.com reported. “He’s just got to keep his head up.”

NFL Network reporter Aditi Kinkhabwala tweeted “Jeffrey could not have been classier. Answered questions for a long time from one scrum, sat in his locker and waited for a few stragglers and then stood up for another round of cameras: ‘I’ll take this loss on me. But it won’t destroy me.’ ”

USC women’s basketball coach and Philadelphia native Dawn Staley also commended Jeffery on Twitter.

Jeffery “thank you! Thank you for saying yes to Eagles and bringing up a Super Bowl. You are the man!”

Another fellow Gamecock alum who was a great receiver in the NFL also tweeted his support for Jeffery. Sterling Sharpe told Jeffery “do not hang your head bro. I love how you play the game.”

Jeffery was drafted in the second round of the 2012 draft by the Chicago Bears. The St. Matthews native spent five years with the Bears before signing a one-year deal with Eagles in 2017, but he signed a four-year, $52 million extension during the season.

The former Calhoun County High School star overcame a slow start in his first season with Philadelphia to finish with 57 receptions for 789 yards and nine touchdowns. In 2018, he had 65 catches for 843 yards and six scores.

For his NFL career, Jeffery has 426 catches for 6,181 yards and 41 touchdowns.

At South Carolina, Jeffery was twice named All-SEC and an All-American in 2010, when he hauled in 88 catches for 1,517 yards and nine touchdowns. In three seasons as the Gamecocks’ top receiver, Jeffery amassed 183 receptions, 3,042 yards and 23 touchdowns.

Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Alshon Jeffery helps defeat the New England Patriots 41-33 in Super Bowl LII, on Sunday, Feb. 4, 2018.

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Noah Feit is a Real Time reporter with The State and McClatchy Carolinas Regional Team. The award-winning journalist has worked for multiple newspapers since starting his career in 1999.


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